What is Snoring?
Snoring is the harsh sounds that develop when the soft collapsible tissues of your throat, the soft palate, the uvula, the lining tissues of the throat, and the tongue - relax and partially block the airway. As air passes through this narrowed airway, the tissues vibrate against each other in the back of the throat and create the snoring sounds.
Your airway runs from your nose and mouth through your throat and down into your lungs and is like a hollow tube. There is increased airflow through any narrowed areas in the hollow tube, which causes a drop in the pressure at that point ("Bernoulli's Principle"). This pulls the throat tissues inward into the tube, making it even narrower and adding to the vibrations. Snoring is produced from the combination of a narrowed tube, the floppiness of the soft tissue walls of the tube, and the flow of air through it. The narrower your airway, the stronger the vibrations and the louder the snoring... Most snoring treatments are directed towards increasing the diameter of the airway, increasing the stiffness of the airway walls, or reducing the force of flowing air.
Snoring can actually occur in different locations as vibrations can occur anywhere along the airway tube where there is a narrowing. It is important to determine from your exam, sleep study and evaluation where the snoring occurs as this will determine your best treatment. Generally speaking, snoring is most likely to occur in those:
- who have a narrowed airway
- who have a large base tongue
- who have an elongated drooping soft palate &/or enlarged uvula
- who have large tonsils &/or adenoids
- who are overweight/obese with excess tissues around the throat
- who have nasal obstructions, such as nasal polyps
- who have a deviated septum - perhaps from an injury
- who have chronic allergies, infections, asthma, etc.
- who mouth breathe - usually due to the nasal obstruction
- who have a short neck/receded chin that restricts their airway
- who is hypothyroid, associated with smaller chin, mandible
- who drink alcohol before going to bed
- who take certain medications before bed - sleeping pills sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, etc.
Most people snore only at night while others can snore almost anytime, anywhere and in any position. Others snore soon after they first fall asleep. Most snore in the deeper stages of their sleep and/or during dreaming. Snoring can occur in both inhalation and exhalation, but is usually consistent within the same individual, but can change depending upon the areas of narrowing or partial obstruction It can also occur when breathing through the nose or through the nose and mouth combined.
The loudness of snoring has been measured in the sleep laboratory and has been recorded in excess of 100 decibels - about the same intensity as a motorcycle motor running or a passing jet plane - (a pneumatic drill records at about 110 decibels).
Snoring is estimated to affect over 100 million Americans. Specific numbers vary, but studies from all around the world show very large numbers of suffering snorers, and suffering snorer's partners.
Snoring can occur at all ages, in both men and women, and even in children and adolescents. People who snore usually do not get enough good quality of sleep and are tired and fatigued the next day. Most snorers do not realize that their snoring can be dangerous to health, and many do not realize that it can be treated. Snoring can easily lead to Obstructive Sleep Apnea which can be deadly is not treated.